Former Conservative Radio Host Dies in Ferndale House Fire

John P. Stokes, 71, was found dead in his home on Dec. 28 more than two weeks after he reportedly died in a house fire

By Maggie Dresser
KGEZ radio studio south of Kalispell on July 7, 2017. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

A 71-year-old former conservative Kalispell radio talk show host died last month following a fire in his home in the Ferndale area, Lake County Sheriff Don Bell announced today in a press release.

Lake County Sheriff’s Office detectives and coroners discovered the body of John P. Stokes, a Bigfork resident and former owner of the KGEZ radio station, about two weeks after he died as a result of the house fire.

Officials determined after a preliminary investigation that the fire and death occurred on the morning of Dec. 13.

The sheriff’s office on Dec. 28 received a call requesting a welfare check at Stokes’ residence. When law enforcement officers arrived, they found Stokes dead in his home where a fire had occurred. The fire was contained to the room where he was located, according to the release.

The Montana State Fire Marshall and State Medical Examiner have indicated the fire was accidental and the incident remains under investigation.

More than a decade ago, Stokes lost control of the radio station as part of a bankruptcy settlement, which also cost him his federal broadcasting license and the land easement upon which his transmission towers stood.

At the height of Montana’s so-called “timber wars,” Stokes emerged as a controversial figure in the Flathead Valley for his criticism of environmentalists on his radio show and public displays like burning a green swastika on the station’s front lawn. His daily talk show, “The Edge,” reached listeners up to 100 miles away, while his wide-ranging rants received prominent national news coverage, earning him a dedicated base of followers.